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Use selenium and telnet to automate orbi router's dnsmasq

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Python command to update dnsmasq configuration file and / or set hosted hosts file on your Netgear Orbi router.



If you own a Netgear Orbi, you should know that its OS is based on OpenWrt. This means that we could use telnet to tap into some of the features that haven't been made available through the web GUI. I was really interested in the dnsmasq capabilities to set up "Router based ad-blocking" to reduce ads on my whole network, so I decided to try and config that into my router after reading about it on hackingthenetgearorbi.

There was just one problem: Configs done to the orbi will be erased when it turns off.

Because of this, I wanted to create a "fire and forget" command that I could run comfortably whenever I was feeling like it. I also thought it would be neat if people without technical knowledge would be able to run it too.

And that's the reason I created orbi-dnsmasq, and why you are reading this now!

Steps this command takes

  • Asks for router password (note: the password is not stored in any way, you'll need to re-enter it every time).
  • Turns on telnet on the debug Orbi GUI if -t flag was supplied.
  • Telnet into Orbi.
  • Replace /etc/dnsmasq.conf with a custom configuration file specified by -c <path>
  • Downloads hosts file if -d was supplied (you can specify a custom url with the -u <url> flag, or check the default one I'm using on
  • Deletes the no-hosts line to active dnsmasq.
  • Reboots Orbi's dns.
  • Turns off telnet on the debug Orbi GUI if -t flag was supplied.

Getting Started

Running in Docker

This is the easiest way to run, all you need is Docker installed an run:

docker build -t orbi-dnsmasq . && \
docker run -it --rm orbi-dnsmasq <parameters>

You only need the first line on the first run or if you change any Python files.

If you want to upload a custom configuration file, you'll have to expose it as Docker volume, ie:

docker run -it --rm -v <full path to dnsmasq.conf>:/tmp/dnsmasq.conf orbi-dnsmasq -p $orbipw -a -t -c /tmp/dnsmasq.conf

Prerequisites (without Docker)

First, make sure python is already installed on your system by opening the interactive environment by running on your terminal:


I've tested both Python 2.7 and 3.7, so I believe any version from 2.7 onwards should work. If you don't have Python installed, please download it from the official website.

After that, any terminal or equivalent with telnet and vim should be enough to run this correctly, but do let me know if you find any problems!


Simply run:

pip install orbi-dnsmasq

And then if your Orbi has telnet already on, just run it with:


After this, just enter a site which would usually end up filled with ads and see if the config worked. I usually test this step out with Speedtest by Ookla, but you can use whichever one you want. Note: Not every ad will be blocked, youtube ads still seem to be showing up for example. Nevertheless, a lot of dangerous sites and ads won't be shown.

Also, don't worry if you end up running this command twice. I made sure it does not fail if the config was already in place.

Auto turn on telnet before command, and turn it off after

If you don't like leaving telnet port open when not using it, you can use the -t parameter to automatically toggle Telnet on and off after work is done.

After that, run:

orbi-dnsmasq -t

Known issues

Sometimes authentication will fail and you'll see a ts not found, retry in a minute or two error. Normally retrying works.

Possible things to add:

  • Read password from ENV var, don't ask it if already found. You can provide the admin password with -p <password> parameter (warning: your password may be recorded on your terminal's history, watch out for that).
  • Flag option to set username to connect with, use admin as default (is this even necessary?).
  • Create Telnet object with telnet_write methods, cleaning up the code.
  • Understand why authentication fails every now and then and fix it.
  • Improve
  • Unit testing? (does it even makes sense? All telnet communications would need to be mocked)


Contributors ✨

Thanks goes to these wonderful people (emoji key):

Nuno Ferro


This project follows the all-contributors specification. Contributions of any kind welcome!

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